7 July 2012
“CARICOM and the Commonwealth joined at the hip” – Commonwealth Secretary-General
Left to right: CARICOM Chair and Prime Minister of St Lucia Dr Kenny Anthony and Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma
Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma has reaffirmed the Commonwealth’s commitment to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and pledged continued partnership with the region to build long-term resilience and amplify Caribbean concerns on the international stage.
The Commonwealth Secretary-General attended the 33rd Regular Meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government in Gros Islet, St Lucia, from 4 to 6 July. He updated Caribbean leaders and senior officials on the work the Commonwealth Secretariat has been doing with the region. He also took the opportunity to hear how the Secretariat can better serve Caribbean member states.
Addressing the summit, Mr Sharma said CARICOM was important to the Commonwealth because the majority of the Community were also members of the Commonwealth.
“CARICOM and the Commonwealth are joined at the hip,” he said. “We walk together and share the same sense of direction.”
He added that the co-operation between CARICOM and the Commonwealth had yielded many benefits to both associations, highlighting the improved quality of legislation and the opportunities for international trade that had been created in the Caribbean with Commonwealth technical assistance.
Mr Sharma emphasised: “The Commonwealth has been able to magnify the voice of the small and unrepresented. In seeking to be this voice, we have worked to ensure that the concerns and priorities of those not at the G20 table are nonetheless taken into account by the G20. Ahead of the Los Cabos G20 Summit, we stressed to the Mexican Chair that G20 prescriptions for dealing with global crises and economic challenges can only be truly global solutions if they take into account the priorities and concerns of small, poor and vulnerable states. Food security, debt – especially the challenges of highly indebted middle income countries – innovative sources of finance for development, and green growth are top priorities.”
Mr Sharma also expressed his gratitude for the contribution that Caribbean countries were making to the Commonwealth. He said Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago have played a key role in strengthening the Commonwealth’s political values in the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, which is charged with addressing member states that seriously or persistently violate the association’s political values. He also thanked Barbados and Belize for their contribution to charting the Commonwealth’s reform process.
“The Commonwealth of the near future will see a sharper focus in the Secretariat on areas of comparative and unique advantage as well as more measurable impact,” Mr Sharma said.
“There will be stronger links between networks within the Commonwealth, an open mind to new, innovative partnerships, strong political leadership, and an all round heightened profile of the Commonwealth,” he added.
The Secretary-General had meetings with Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony of St Lucia, the new CARICOM Chair; President Donald Ramotar of Guyana; Jamaican Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister A J Nicholson; and Trinidad and Tobago's Foreign Minister Winston Dookeran. Mr Sharma also hosted a dinner for the leaders.
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>> Commonwealth Secretary-General’s remarks to the Plenary Session of the 33rd Regular Meeting of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Conference of Heads of Government